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  • Septic Services FAQs

    • Does Hartigan install septic systems?
      No. We provide a pumping service. We do have excellent contacts for septic tank installation and repair.
    • Are there any alternatives to having my entire yard dug up if there is a problem with the sewer line - such as roots or cracks?
      YES! Hartigan has the capacity to perform trenchless repairs to collector lines, using a cured in place system called "slip lining". This product is a resin-based lining system to restore pipe lines to their original working condition.
    • What kinds of maintenance do I need to do to keep my system working properly?
      One: Sludge that gathers in the bottom of the septic tank has to be pumped out on a regular basis. Frequency depends on tank size, intensity of use, and system health.
      Two: Don't introduce chemicals into the tank that can kill bacteria, which digest solids. The list is long, but in most households these chemicals include bleach, water softeners, ammonia, chemical cleaners, detergents, disinfectants, toilet cleaners, polishes, sink and tub cleaners, and caustic drain openers. Naturally, do not pour solvents like paint thinner into the system.
      Three: Don't use a garbage disposal! (They double the amount of solids in the tank.)
      Four: Plant ONLY grass on or near the drain field. No trees, shrubs or structures.
      Five: Divert storm water away from the drain field. Fluids are being absorbed underground, so too much saturation is not a good thing.
    • What could cause my septic system to fail?

      A wide variety of things. Incorrect installation and/or placement. Overloading or exceeding the systems designed limitations. Excessive water use such as a leaking toilet. Any of these issues can cause a system to fail. Inorganic materials like feminine hygiene products or cigarette butts. Avoid putting kitchen grease down your drains. More information on this follows: 

      Non-biodegradable material fibers (polyester, nylon, and other synthetics) are a leading cause of plugged septic system drain fields, sewer pipes, and drains. Typical lint screens used with consumer washing machines and discharge hoses trap less than 5% of these particles. Did you know that even a new septic system can fail in as little as three years? This is primarily due to non-biodegradable material fibers plugging the soil in septic system drain fields.

      How this happens: The majority of lint fibers are very fine, lightweight particles that stay in suspension in the septic tank. They then flow with the water out to the drain field where they plug the pores of the soil. Over time, the soil can become so plugged with fibers that the drain field fails to allow the effluent to migrate through the soil. Then, the homeowner is faced with costly repairs. For homes connected to city sewer systems, these lint fibers are a leading cause of sewer pipe and drain clogs, which can cause flooding in laundry rooms and basements. 
      Fix: The good news is that lint can be prevented from entering the septic system through the use of a reusable, inline filter which attaches to your washing machine discharge hose. See Filtrol 160 as a solution.

      You can also damage your septic system by doing a large number of laundry loads in a short period of time. In standard septic systems, solid materials settle in the tank while sewage flows out into the ground. If you put more water into the system than it is built to handle, the high volume of water will flood your system, and can also stir up and flush solids out of the tank into the drain field (in fact, septic pumpers use water from their hoses to help break up solids in your tank before pumping them out). A typical washing machine can use up to 60 gallons of water per wash load. On a heavy day you can easily put 400, 500, or 600 gallons of water through the system in a few hours. The solution is to spread out your water use. Do one or two loads of laundry per day, rather than 10-12 loads on Saturday morning. Water softeners can also damage your system by putting too much water through the septic system. These devices can put several hundred gallons of water down the drain every week, water that is not contaminated and does not need to go through the treatment process.

      First of all, you should get your tank pumped on a regular basis to prevent excessive accumulation of solids in the tank. Under normal conditions, you should have the tank inspected and pumped every 1-3 years. Very important: tanks should be pumped and inspected through the manhole cover, not the inspection pipe. Your septic contractor should also install an effluent filter in the exit baffle of the tank. Effluent filters stop the larger solids from getting out to the drain field. They are cleaned out about every 6 months and are usually only about $80. Effluent filters are cheap insurance and, along with a washing machine filter, one of the best things you can do to protect your system.

      Excessive use of these products can contribute to septic system failure. If you do over 5 loads a week containing bleach, problems could arise. Avoid powdered detergents as they contain plastic fillers that can plug up your lines and drain field. Also, be careful with harsh automatic toilet bowl cleaners, which have put quite a few systems out of commission.

    • What signs would tell me if my system is in trouble?
      Sluggish toilets, backups, gurgling toilets and drains, septic odors, or pooling water on or around leach field and pump station. Also, saturated ground on and around your system.
    • How often should my tank be serviced?
      The average residential system should be serviced every three years. System filters should be cleaned every six months.
    • Why should I have my home's septic tank serviced?
      A septic tank is just one component of your home's larger septic system. Failure to service the tank regularly can cause the entire system to fail.
    • What happens in a septic tank?
      When household waste enters the tank, organic solids float to the surface and inorganics sink to the bottom. Bacteria decompose the organic matter and relatively clear water flows out of the tank into the soil absorption area.
    • What is a septic system?
      A septic system is actually a small sewage treatment and disposal system with two main components: a septic tank and a soil absorption area (also commonly called a “leach field” or "drain field").
    • What is your availability and response time?
      Response time to any emergency is the highest priority. Our fleet of service vehicles are constantly in transit throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Maine and are able to be rerouted to your location — within hours of your call.
    • How much do municipal services cost?
      We tailor service programs to accommodate your municipal financial constraints.
    • Is Hartigan local?
      Yes! Hartigan is locally operated.
    • Where is Hartigan located?
      Our office is centrally located in Middlesex, VT.